30 June 2011

Where's Unimportant by Daniel Shortell

When I accepted this book for review, from the author's publicist, I told her it was outside of my comfort zone and not a genre I usually read. That was (and is) my caveat. If you'd like to read the synopsis from Goodreads, it's here.

'Where's Unimportant' is a smart, sarcastic exploration of the life of Jack Addington. The novel takes us through one day of Jack's life through Jack's eyes. As he describes the minutiae of his life now, Jack flashes back to the life of his adventurous and, somewhat misspent, youth in comparison. The reader needs to stay on her toes to keep up with where Jack's mind is taking her. It can get confusing occasionally but I found that I didn't stay lost for long and the comparisons are what the book was all about for me. It kept me asking 'What about me? Where have I been? Where am I now? Am I where I want to be?'

There is no question that Jack's life is boring: drudgery at it's best (worst?). Because of this, I did find myself getting bored of reading from time to time. This is likely because of the aforementioned caveat. Mr. Shortell's writing style is what kept me returning to the story. His descriptions are vivid and his use of the English language results in a flowing, lyrical prose. The entire book reads like this:

Cacophonous mixtures of horns, chatter, bells, wind. The cool breeze tasted smoky, the blackness of the sky felt hollow and vacuous, moving people-blobs merged and separated like lava pooling together then pulling away. (pg 199)

Reading about Jack's life, then and now, took me on a flashback of my own: right back to University and English 110. The opportunities to discuss symbolism and deeper meaning run rampant throughout 'Where's Unimportant'. It's not a book I would take to the beach; not a book I would sit down to read in one sitting. It is a book that invites introspection and discussion.

The last point I would like to discuss is the ending. It is explosive! If I were going to be dragged through a day of someone else's discontent, I would require it to be a day like the one Jack goes through in this book. One in which I could count on something interresting and exciting happening in the end. True to the rest of the novel, however, the last few lines of the book (after the explosion) are somewhat ambiguous. I was left with questions: not the kind that had me looking for a sequel; the kind that will have me replaying the story in my mind as I try to come to terms with what may, or may not, have happened.

The saying 'still waters run deep' definitely applies to this novel.


  1. It is always good to go outside your comfort zone (I am horrible and rarely do ;)

  2. Hmmm, I can't decide if I want to try this one. I like books that have me thinking about them after I'm done but maybe it would be better for a book club book so it could be discussed.

  3. I would have preferred to read it with someone, Jenny. It would be an interesting book club book.

  4. It doesn't sound like my kind of book. Good for you for going outside your comfort zone.

  5. This sounds like the kind of book that might take me a year to read. I do appreciate even the tidbit of prose though

  6. This sounds like my kind of book to an extent!! Added to my TBR list - your review just makes me curious to find out if I'd like it or not!!


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